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Giant baby anteater born at Longleat Safari Park

‘Bubbles’, as he’s been nicknamed by keepers, is the fourth giant anteater to be born at Longleat. Photo: Longleat Safari Park

A rare baby giant anteater has been born at Longleat as part of a captive-breeding programme for the bizarre-looking South American mammal.

‘Bubbles’, as he’s been nicknamed by keepers, is the fourth giant anteater to be born at Longleat.

The new arrival is particularly welcome as the species is officially listed as ‘Vulnerable’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

Between 2000 and 2010, the total population declined by 30%.

Watch the anteater adjusting to life here: (Credit - Longleat Safari Park)

To have a successful birth with our anteaters is fantastic as the species is under increasing threat in the wild.

It’s especially good to see mum Maroni and Bubbles showing all the usual signs of a mother and baby relationship in the early stages.

For the first six months Maroni will carry the baby on her back virtually all the time. The baby takes milk by moving around underneath mum, especially whilst she is resting.

The baby aligns himself to the pattern on mum’s back to provide camouflage from any predators who might prey on the young. It’s so effective that it’s almost as if the baby becomes invisible.

– Wildlife keeper Kim Reynolds

Mum Maroni, who was born in France, and German dad Bonito arrived at Longleat five years ago as part of a co-ordinated European Breeding Programme for th especies.

Giant anteaters originate from Central and South America and can be found in tropical and deciduous forests.

As its name suggests the giant anteater is the largest of the anteater family and can grow to over two metres in length with tongues that extend to more than 60cm.

Their long nose, tongue and sharp claws enable them to get to into ant and termite mounds, eating over 30,000 insects in a single day!